Philadelphia police detain reporter among dozens at 'defund police' protest

Philadelphia Municipal Services Building
Photo credit Hadas Kuznits/KYW Newsradio
By KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Philadelphia Police Department detained over two-dozen people on Tuesday during a protest at the Municipal Services Building. One of them was a local journalist.

The people were in the building for a "defund the police" demonstration.

About two dozen protesters pushing to defund and “demilitarize” Philly Police are in the lobby of Municipal Services Building, preparing to sit in and demanding to meet with Mayor & Managing Director over the proposed budget

— Samantha Melamed (@samanthamelamed) June 23, 2020

Police public affairs officials confirm 26 people were arrested and issued code violation notices for failure to disperse, but Inquirer reporter Samantha Melamed posted on Twitter that there was no order to disperse.

Of course, protesters released were given tickets for failure to disperse. One organizer told me an order to disperse was given, but only once and quietly. I did not hear it. (Reposted bc of photo issue)

— Samantha Melamed (@samanthamelamed) June 23, 2020

Police also confirm that a journalist was detained and released on location. Melamed declined to comment directly to KYW Newsradio, preferring to leave it at what was said on Twitter.

Video on Melamed's Twitter feed shows her being approached by a member of the counterterrorism unit with a baton while she told him “I'm a reporter” six times. The video drops out as another officer turns to her.

So here is the video before I got detained...

— Samantha Melamed (@samanthamelamed) June 23, 2020

She writes on Twitter that she was then handcuffed tightly with zip ties and dragged backwards down two flights of stairs while being mocked by another officer.

So I just told a police officer wielding a baton that im a reporter. He told me to “put this on Twitter”. Then he tightly handcuffed me with zip ties and he and another one mocked me while dragging me backward down two flights of stairs along with few dozen others arrested in MSB

— Samantha Melamed (@samanthamelamed) June 23, 2020

I can only assume that, because @MaxMMarin tweeted it, a captain came by and said “are you Samantha?” and cut my ties off. So, Commissioner Outlaw’s order to stop arresting reporters covering stories is half working.

— Samantha Melamed (@samanthamelamed) June 23, 2020

Police say the reporter they detained was not transported from the Municipal Services Building and was not issued a code violation notice. They add the entire incident is under an internal affairs investigation.

I am extremely disturbed by the video of a reporter being detained while doing her job and covering one of today’s protests—and also very concerned that it may violate the law and @PhillyPolice policy. It will be fully investigated and addressed.

— Jim Kenney (@PhillyMayor) June 23, 2020